Education will never be like before; new normal education has begun. New normal education will start with new normal teachers.
Children lost the whole of 2020 academic session and we are uncertain of 2021 academic session or beyond. This will cost everyone dearly. The pandemic has affected education like never before. It has forced homeschooling and online learning—suddenly, children stopped going to schools and stayed home. Education was synonymous to schooling and there were very less or no alternatives to education. Suddenly, when the school gates closed for children due to the pandemic, the otherwise lively classrooms and play grounds were nothing more than empty structures.
Homeschooling and online learning were something no one was familiar with but we had no options. Bhutan saw one of the best continued education delivery right from the beginning when the pandemic’s pandemonium started hitting us. Under the farsighted guidance of our beloved King, a supportive government and a dedicated Ministry of Education along with various stakeholders, every effort was made by this tiny yet nation of big dreams. eLearning through Tele Education, Google Classrooms, Social Media platforms and Self-Instructional Materials reached all 170,000 plus children. We are still doing the best.
Now, six months into the pandemic and the nation in lockdown, it is certain that the new normal education should take a good shape and foundation. We are continuously blessed by His Majesty’s visionary’s guidance. The government will support. Ministry of Education will lead and every other stakeholder will do their best for future fitting our education system and going forward with a promising and practical new normal education. However, it is teachers who can make everything deliverable. New Normal Education will start with new normal teachers. Teachers must start accepting, preparing, learning, unlearning, relearning and delivering the new normal education. Our children are out there in their homes and every passing day without school should be made as worthwhile as possible. Parents will do their part. Time calls for teachers who are resilient and possessing strong emotional intelligence. Teachers should be tech savvy innovators who are continuously learning to create the new normal teaching learning cycle. Technology is a big part of the new normal education. Teachers must become creative content creators. Video conference-based classes, Google Classrooms, Virtual Learning Environment, Chat rooms and virtual connectivity with learners are some of the many things that teachers start learning seriously and accepting it as an integral part of the profession. Using technology and online platforms to deliver lessons will be a challenge to overcome because technology based learning is the future. A PDF file sent in a class chat room with notes and questions is just a small start-interactive, user friendly and creative ways of lesson delivery along with assessment and engagement strategies are the bigger steps. The new normal education will require the leadership of self and teachers collaborating with each other as well as stakeholders is a new normal priority. Teachers must become the most creative and versatile professionals. Critical thinking and communication skills should be a constant focus for every teacher. In summary, teachers need to inspire themselves to move up from the comfort zone of being just teachers.
Most of our strategies learnt at the colleges are already becoming obsolete and so will our skills. The uncertain times is calling all teachers to gear up for a whole new way of teaching learning. Time is now to invest your time in getting ready for something that is uncertain. When everyone else is taking care of their role in the new normal education, the 9,000 plus teachers, who are the key players, must gear up. Teachers will play the biggest role in realising the new normal education as a success. The stakeholders must equally equip, engage and empower teachers with the opportunities of taking forward the new normal education. Teachers are humble professionals and are always ready to adapt, innovate and initiate. Teachers are important in every society at all times but this uncertain future calls for an added importance and responsibility of teachers.
Lobesa LSS, Punakha